Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. opening the door of Room 307 of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis in 1966. (© Dr. Ernest C. Withers, Sr. courtesy of the WITHERS FAMILY TRUST and thewitherscollection.com)

Here is a listing of some events slated for Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. We are updating this list as we learn of other events, so check back frequently!

National Civil Rights Museum

Community service and social and economic justice will be the focus as the National Civil Rights Museum will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the national holiday on Jan. 15.

Amid the observance will be various references to Dr. King’s last campaign to “balance the scales of economic justice through the Poor People’s Campaign.”

Daylong performances, youth-centered edutainment, a healthy community pavilion and the National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM) experience are among the featured activities. In addition, the NCRM will hold its annual Mid-South Food Bank Drive and Lifeblood Drive, and serve as a center for community resources and engagement.

The theme, “Where Do We Go from Here,” continues as part of the yearlong MLK50 Commemoration leading up to the three days of events on April 2-4. Throughout
Dr. King came to Memphis in 1968 to support the Memphis Sanitation Strike. This week, the NCRM served as host as the NAACP national officers detailed plans to honor the surviving Memphis Sanitation Workers with the organization’s Vanguard Award.

The men will be presented the award during the live telecast of the 49th NAACP Image Awards on January 15 at 7 p.m. CST. The ceremony in Pasadena, Calif. was moved from its usual February date to coincide with Dr. King’s birthday during the MLK50 Commemoration year.


  • Visitors can tour the museum from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for a special $5 admission. An optional $3 admission is available for attendees bringing canned good donations for Mid-South Food Bank. A free admission option is available for blood donations to the Lifeblood Drive.
  • Entertainment from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the Founders Park Main Stage. Special guests, media personalities and food trucks will be onsite.
  • Children’s Activity Tent open 10 a.m.–4 p.m., with storytelling, face painting, music, balloon artists, puppeteers, arts and crafts.

The Community Pavilion will be staged in the museum’s visitor parking lot. It will include resources and screenings from a dozen local health organizations and provide resources and information via community organizations.

For more information, visit https://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/king-day.

SCLC Memphis pushes on with Dr. King service

Dr. King was inextricably linked to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which he co-founded in 1957 upon the roots of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He was serving as its president when he was gunned down in Memphis on the evening of April 4, 1968 while standing on a third-floor balcony at the Lorraine Motel.

On what would have been Dr. King’s 89th birthday, the SCLC Memphis chapter will salute him during a service at St. Stephen Baptist Church located at 4245 Singleton Parkway.

The Rev. Walter Womack, interim president of SCLC Memphis, said the service will feature “renowned speakers” and that it is set to begin at 10 a.m.

The Rev. Dr. Frank E. Ray Sr., senior pastor of New Salem Baptist Church, will deliver the keynote address.

The SCLC Memphis observance of the Dr. King holiday will be the chapter’s first since Womack was named interim in the wake of the death of the Rev. Dr. Dwight Montgomery in September 2017. Montgomery had served as president since his election in 2004.

33rd Annual Dr. King National Holiday Parade

On Monday, January 15, the 33rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King National Holiday Parade will be held, lining-up and starting at the corner of Main St. & A.W. Willis.

The parade is set for 10:30 a.m., with a program set for 9:30 a.m. Parade route: South on Main to Exchange; East on Exchange to Second; South on Second to the National Civil Rights Museum, where the Parade will end. There will be a 15-minute “Parade Performance” on Beale Street.

There is no fee to enter the King Parade. For more information, contact Patrice Lumumba at 901- 870-5267; email [email protected].

MSPJC Living the Legacy of Nonviolence

Rosa Clemente – international social justice organizer, journalist, scholar and former Green Party vice presidential candidate – will headline Living The Legacy of Nonviolence: the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center’s 36th anniversary dinner on Saturday, Jan. 13, at First Congregational Church at 1000 Cooper St. in Cooper-Young.

Clemente is widely known for her groundbreaking journalism and as a powerful voice for the Afro-Latinx community.

This year’s MSPJC gala will also celebrate local #TakeEmDown901 activists with a new award named in honor of longtime Memphis activist and MSPJC supporter, Dorothy “Happy” Jones, who passed away in November. The event is set for 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Citizens for Better Service

Citizens for Better Service will sponsor its 25th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Award program to honor outstanding students who exemplify the qualities of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Bloomfield Full Gospel Church, 123 South Parkway West on Sunday, January 14 at 3 p.m.

The theme is: Walk with Dignity. Musical guests will include gospel artists such as Barbara” Sissy” Davis, Colors of Gospel Choir, Cordova High School Choir and the Traveling Kings. The Miss Memphis Organization will be a part of this program. City Councilman Edmund Ford Jr. providing congratulatory remarks. Dr. Priscilla Williams, director of Beacon of Light Outreach Ministry, will serve as the M.C.

Positive impact awards will be presented.

  • Principal of the Year – Dr. Tisha Durrah, Principal, Craigmont High School
  • Teacher of the Year- Dominic Van Horn, Teacher, Larose Elementary School
  • Student of the Year –  Karmen Winters, Student, City University School of Liberal Arts
  • Pastor of the Year- Elder Jeffery Williams, Tucker Temple C.O.G.I.C
  • Rosa Parks Courageous Award – Tony Nichelson, Founder of Man of the House Mentoring Program
  • Missionary Cleola Mosley Humanitarian Award- John Best a.k.a Brother Joh, Radio Personality, 88.5 (Voice of Shelby County Schools)
  • Shining Star Award –DanzHouse Dance Company
  • Lifetime Achievement Award-  Otis Sanford, Longtime Journalist/ Author
  • Man of Honor –  Terry Fell, Surgical Attendant, Methodist Hospital
  • Woman of Honor – Kim Heathcott , Owner/CEO , Clarion Security
  • Community Leader of the Year –Director Gina Sweat , Director, Memphis Fire Department
  • Community Role Model of the Year –  Mauricio Calvo, Executive Director, Latino Memphis
  • Golden Voice Award- Ambria Lumpkin, New Recording  Teen Gospel Artist
  • Choir of the Year- Cordova High School

The program is free to the public. The Rev. Ralph White is the host pastor.

BRIEFLY: Volunteer Memphis, an action initiative of Leadership Memphis, is coordinating MLK Days of Service 2018. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/2mbIMAU.

BRIEFLY: The Food Pantry and Clothes Closet of Catholic Charities of West Tennessee, located at 1325 Jefferson Ave., will be open during the holiday on January 15th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. as a way of honoring the memory of Dr. King. A Neighborhood Cookout will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

BRIEFLY: MLK Holiday & Memphis Music Monday! – Enjoy the holiday, salute and give respect to a great American and immerse yourself in Memphis Music! Join Memphis Music Matters at the Hard Rock Cafe for Memphis Music Monday January 15th at 6 p.m. Admission is free.